On Thursday I was sick. Not quite bed-sick, but "lie on the couch and stare glassy-eyed at the TV screen without even knitting" sick. An entertainment show came on that I don't usually watch. The topic of the day was paparazzi, and the host said that after the commercial break, actors Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell (should I have heard of her?) would discuss a law they were working on to make it illegal for paparazzi to sell photos of the children of celebs. Now, I freely admit I'm the paparazzi's target audience. If Brad and Angelina ever do marry and my friend Susan knows about it before I do, I will do the Rumpelstiltskin dance of rage. Yes, please: I want to hear the voicemail left by Alec Baldwin for his daughter. And Gwyneth with her "consciously uncoupling?"? The delicious scorn at her attempts to "spin" divorce gets me out of bed in the mornings.
And yet, like most of you, I had a knee-jerk reaction to the law Dax Shepard was discussing. Yes, children should be off limits. While I enjoy shots of Jennifer Garner picnicking on the lawn with her children and yes, I was very curious to see little North West, I can live without it. Let the children be.
After Dax and Kristen had given their impassioned speech, they were joined by two... journalists who buy photos from paparazzi. I expected to view them both as Satan incarnate, but one of them spoke reasonably and respectfully. Kristen referred to them both as "Pedorazzi." The more obnoxious journalist objected to the term as inflammatory. Dax then said, "Look it up. It just means photographing children." Well, yes, Dax. If we're going to get all Latin about it, we must acknowledge that pedophile really just means "lover of children." But we all know what you're implying.
Both men claimed they would never purchase a photograph that had obviously been taken illegally (i.e., a child photographed through a window in his home) and that while they know photographers shout insults at the celebs to get reactions, that's not really something they can control. Dax said, "What about if someone tried to sell you a photograph of an A-list celebrity walking down the street, holding hands with her child, just having a nice, family moment. Would you ever just NOT buy that photo, just to be a good guy?"
I applaud both journalists for not laughing outright in Dax's face. Just to be a good guy? I imagine calling LB and saying, "I know that client has more money in his back pocket than everyone in your office combined makes in a year, but don't you think you should refrain from charging a commission on that stock trade you made for him? You know, just to be a good guy?" The phrase Dax kept repeating was, "We chose this lifestyle and to be in the limelight, but our children did not choose this."
I started thinking about other professions and how they impact children. Let's say you're a young boy growing up in Seymour, Indiana or Maumee, Ohio, and let's say that your mother is a doctor with Planned Parenthood who performs abortions as part of her practice. Her career will affect her children. Her children will no doubt have classmates whose parents refuse to let them be friends, or even enter the doctor's home.
Then, because I was ill and the slight fever made my brain go to places long forgotten, I remembered reading Martin Andersen-Nexø's Ditte trilogy about a young girl growing up in rural Denmark in the early 1900's. There is a chapter in one of the novels about a girl -- I don't think it was Ditte herself -- who lives for a time with her uncle, the sausage maker. The novel describes sausage-making as the most scorned of all professions, and the poor girl was given no end of grief from others about her uncle's livelihood. She had no friends. Any time a dog went missing in the village, everyone accused the sausage-maker of stealing him and putting him in the sausage.
Heck, when we lived in El Sobrante and told our neighbors that LB was going to train to become a stockbroker, the wife said, "Well, that's fine and all, if you're willling to turn yourself money-grubbing scum."
All our career choices affect our children, but I don't think I've met a parent who has allowed his or her child decide which career path the parent should follow. In fact, everything we do affects our children. This is not fair; this is also not new. What Dax Shepard wants is no different fom what many celebrities want: special treatment.